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Harry Hill

February 2013

WHEN Harry Hill thinks about the numerous times he’s visited the city, from early stand-up shows at Just The Tonic to selling out the Royal Concert Hall, there’s one abiding memory: pies. Or rather, one pie in particular, delivered to him at the venue, on his last tour here six years ago.
“When we arrived in Nottingham we were presented with a giant steak and kidney pie,” says the 48-year-old.
“It was because at the show the night before I had commented on a pub that had come second place in a national steak and kidney pie competition.
“I’d said how I liked to go there if I was ever in the area.
“So when I arrived in Nottingham I was formally presented with one of these pies.”
And how was it?
“Well, the sad thing was, we had no way of reheating it, so we had the pie on the road with us for about two weeks, until we realised that all hope of ever eating it was lost and we had to abandon it to the foxes.”
The tour that brings him back to the city later this month is similarly foodie, billed as the Sausage Time Tour.
It features all manner of silliness from live music to stand-up and visual gags, including a 20-foot sausage.
“It’s a tribute to the Olympic opening ceremony,” he says confidently of something which makes little sense.
“Bradley Wiggins makes a brief appearance too.”
The real Bradley Wiggins?
“Well, you’d never be able to tell from the back of the stalls.”
He’ll also be joined by his band The Harrys, plus Stouffer the Cat, his son Gary and grandson Sam, “an expert-whistler-of-chart-hits”.
Topics will range from the existence of God to his Nan’s ailments.
Unlike a lot of live comedy, it is suitable for children. Well, some of them.
“Anyone under 12 is banned,” says Hill, who was born Matthew Hall in Surrey.
“There’s nothing offensive or rude in it but that’s not the reason. I just don’t think younger children would get much out of it.”
He adds: “Actually, we just don’t want kids crying.”
He’s back on the road for the first time since quitting TV Burp last year, the satirical ITV series that made him a fixture on the Saturday evening schedule.
It was a huge success, regularly pulling in nine million viewers, despite its surreal nature going against the grain of primetime TV. The first five years he describes as being “a bit under the radar” since its first home was after the watershed.
“They didn’t really know what to do with it,” says the former doctor, who trained in neurosurgery.
“Because I’d come from Channel 4 (where he presented two series of The Harry Hill Show) they thought I was a bit alternative, so they thought they’d better put it on late at night.
“But it’s never been anything other than silly. When it went out at 6.30pm one Saturday it got good ratings and that surprised them. But after that it was pretty much plain sailing.”
He is still surprised that he was able to get away with some of the material on TV Burp.
“We always thought we’d get closed down,” he laughs.
One of his favourite sketches was the Naughtiest Vegetarians where Heather Mills squared up to Adolf Hitler, with Hill cheering “Come on Hitler!”
He says: “They didn’t seem to have a problem with that.
“It was only once that they got a bit jittery and that was when we did the knitted X Factor, called The K Factor.
“We had a knitted Simon Cowell, a knitted Cheryl Cole and a knitted Louis Walsh. One of the contestants ran riot and snipped off the knitted Simon Cowell’s head.
“The next show we recorded, someone from ITV came down to keep an eye on us. He didn’t say as much but we guessed it was because of that.”
Ratings were still strong for the show but Hill, who is married with three daughters, decided he and his team of writers had done enough.
It was inevitable that he’d return to the road, he says.
“The last tour was a lot of fun. There are always five of us travelling around together. And even while I was doing all the TV (he also does the voiceover for You’ve Been Framed), being back on the tour was always at the back on my mind.
“When I gave up TV Burp I thought it was probably the time to do it. I phoned the guys and they were all keen to get back together and go out again.”
All the lads together. Must be fun.
“It’s very boring,” he admits, from the back of a car on the M4.
“It’s the travel, you know. The motorways are a barren landscape, the weather’s horrible and when you get to the venue you tend not to have time to see much of the town.”
Well, at least he’s had time to enjoy television again, instead of watching it to research clips for TV Burp. Although, he can’t help himself...
“There are those odd shows when I think ‘that would have been good for TV Burp’. But Splash! – you couldn’t even make that up!” he says of the celebrity diving series that ran in TV Burp’s slot until last weekend.
“It’s like a spoof. You can’t take your eyes off it. This is the time when TV Burp needs to be on.
“The funny thing is that there so little diving happens. It’s all the faff around it; what they’ve been doing in the week, what they had for breakfast, now they’re crying before they jump... and then the dive is such an anti-climax because it takes half a second.”
He adds: “They ought to have called it Plop.”
Hill likes the idea so much he keeps repeating “plop!” as I attempt to ask another question.
“I’d like to see Subo on that diving board,” he ponders.
His next project is a stage musical based on another reality TV show – the X Factor.
“I can’t say much but it’s all looking very positive,” he says.
“It’s a comedy but not an attack on the show. It’s more of a celebration... irreverent, tongue-in-cheek... a lot like a TV Burp treatment.”
That and the tour will keep him busy for the next 12 months, which means he won’t be back on our TV screens for a while.
“When I finished TV Burp I didn’t feel the need to do any more TV for a while. Apart from anything else, everyone would be saying ‘right, let’s see what you follow that with’. So there’s a certain amount of pressure to any new project.
“I thought I’d have a break and have some fun. And I am doing.”

Harry Hill appears at the Royal Concert Hall on Tuesday, February 19. Tickets are £30, call 0115 989 5555 or go to

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